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Ron Barrier -- The Garlic Necklace: Positive Atheism in a Negative World
April 3, Afternoon Session

The Saturday afternoon session of the National Convention began with a lecture by Ron Barrier, National Spokesperson for American Atheists. He talked on “The Garlic Necklace: Positive Atheism in a Negative World.” In addition to representing the organization to the news media, Mr. Barrier also serves as Secretary for American Atheists and the other affiliated corporations. He is co-host of The Atheist Viewpoint television program which is carried on cable systems throughout the nation.

Ron spoke of his experiences as being a Christian for nearly 35 years; increasingly, though, he saw little or no point in much of the rituals he was engaged in. “It one day just dawned on me that I was becoming a non-believer. This was a shock because when I was growing up, in school we were indoctrinated into shunning anyone who didn’t believe in a god...”

In 1993, he happened to see a program on C-SPAN which featured coverage of the American Atheists National Convention, which included a speech by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. “Her description of American society at that time was so accurate, it made me realize two things: there were others ‘out there’ who felt the same way I did, and I realized that I had to do a major shift in my thinking. I began to consider my life the major priority, not the job of trying to save my soul...”

Ron noted that “believers understand Atheism in the same way that giraffes understand VCRs.” He added that many of the books about (and, of course, against) Atheism are written by non-Atheists. Ron described “Theology” as “The art of making up stories about things we haven’t found out about yet...”

Mr. Barrier also noted the tenuous nature of what is “certain.” He quoted the late Richard Feynmann, physicist extraordinarie, who said that humanity stands at the threshold of an ever expanding sphere of ignorance. “To the Atheist, having doubt is not a problem. Doubt to the believer is a problem, though, which has to be eliminated at all cost.”

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